Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was arrested in March 2016 on the charge of violating the U.S. sanctions against Iran, later turned state's evidence against Turkey and entered the American witness protection program, was found to be living a luxurious life in New York City.
Spotted by Hürriyet daily, it was reported that Zarrab was not being escorted by FBI agents or a personal security guard despite being under witness protection.
Previously, Zarrab was seen in a luxurious hotel across from a famous restaurant where he was eating with a woman. In New York, however, Zarrab was seen by the reporters while going inside the hotel. His driver was reportedly waiting for him in front of the hotel.
Meanwhile, American lawyers who follow the case closely said that it was not legally possible for Zarrab to be released, but he might have gone the restaurant via contacts of the FBI agents who had been escorting him.
Zarrab, 34, was arrested on March 16, 2016 before turning state's evidence in October 2017 and testifying against the former deputy CEO of Turkey's state-run lender Halkbank, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was arrested in March last year while on a business trip in the U.S.
Zarrab has accepted all the U.S. charges against him, including the violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran, money laundering and other charges, and agreed to cooperate as a witness against Atilla. Atilla's lawyers often questioned Zarrab's credibility during the trial; however, a New York jury found Atilla guilty in January on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud with the testimony of Zarrab. One month after the hearings concluded, Zarrab, who was supposed to be in New York City's Westchester Prison, was never heard from again and his name was removed from the records of the prison.